By Anastasia Howland
This August I had the amazing opportunity to travel out west with my family to two places I’d never been before: Idaho and Wyoming. Prior to this trip, all I knew about Idaho was that it produced potatoes. And, embarrassingly enough, the only thing I knew about Wyoming was that its capital was Cheyenne. However, over the course of the trip I learned that Idaho was much more than a giant potato farm and that Wyoming is far more captivating than just a name I’d memorized for a 4th grade geography quiz. Through flowing rivers, breathtaking canyons, and mountains stretching as far as the eye could see, I experienced the glory of God in these places. I could think of nothing but Him when I looked upon these magnificent sights. However, I also experienced through this trip how so many others’ eyes are blinded to God’s majesty, and their minds hindered from understanding the world as His canvas of glory.
This was a planned trip, put together by an established travel organization that enlists scientific experts to lead and guide educational expeditions. Our leaders for this specific trip consisted of: a planetary scientist who works for NASA and has data sent directly from the Mars rovers to his laptop every day; an experienced geologist who has worked as an expert in Yellowstone National Park for over 30 years; and a biologist who has lived in the Galapagos islands, led expeditions on all seven continents, and can seemingly answer just about every question you might have about anything living on planet Earth. Because these trips include leadership and lectures from such brilliant scientists, the crowds they draw often consist of scientifically-minded individuals. And so family and I were in the company of not only our three brilliant leaders, but cultural anthropologists, chemists, and nuclear physicists, too. These were some of the most brilliant individuals I had ever encountered, each one both incredibly passionate about and excited to share the knowledge of their field. However, for so many of these individuals, all the scientific knowledge they have amassed is serving as a blindfold to their spiritual eyes.
They witness creation’s beauty in detail, both small and large—the intricate structure of a flower seen under a microscope or the brilliant colors of a supernova thousands of times larger than our planet—yet they do not see our Creator behind it. They often do not see His hands at work in creating even the most beautiful and unique phenomena, such as a total solar eclipse. Along with my family and the 30 other brilliant individuals we traveled with, I experienced this very thing on our trip in August: the total solar eclipse. In fact, the main purpose of this expedition was to see the eclipse from the top of a 10,000-foot mountain in Wyoming—and we did.
As the moon began to eclipse the sun, the colors around us started to dim and the temperature dropped 10 degrees. A couple behind us popped a bottle of champagne that they had hauled all the way up the mountain. When the eclipse reached totality, as the world suddenly turned from day to night, everyone removed their eclipse glasses and cheered unabashedly. Old and young alike, whether it was their first eclipse or their fourteenth, stood in awe of the shimmering white halo in the utterly black sky. Not a single person could resist exclaiming in amazement at the sight before them. But sadly, those exclamations of delight were the only words that came from many people’s mouths, for many do not know to respond in praise to our Maker for creating such a marvelous event. They chalk it up to coincidence that the sun and moon exist at just the correct distance apart needed for such an incredible event to occur. Standing amazed at “coincidence,” and the beautiful thing it has created, they neglect to look deeper into the source of the beautiful thing. Instead, they simply explain away the existence of God—the source of everything—as nothing more than the natural laws of the universe working themselves out. But, as we all often do in some ways, they are missing the point.
God did not create the universe so that we would worship it. He created the universe so that we would look at it, and worship Him. Creation is something that we certainly should enjoy, but more importantly, it is a lens that we must look through to see God. We should view the canvas of creation, admire it for all its beauty, but ascribe praise to its almighty, and most beautiful painter. Simply because we can explain the order of the brushstrokes on the canvas—the way that our universe works and is designed—does not negate the fact that there is a painter, or designer and creator. Whether the attitude coupled with it is academic arrogance or simply an excited curiosity, the world’s view of science often eclipses its view of God, just as the moon eclipsed the sun before us on August 21st. It stood in between us and the sun, blocking out the sun’s light. Scientific knowledge seems to have done the same by blocking so many people’s ability to see the true light of the world, when, in fact, it was intended to be a lens through which to see Him.
Now, I am not intending to claim in any way that I am better, or more “enlightened,” by my own power—it is only by the grace of God that my spiritual blindfold is removed and I am able to look through creation as a lens; I have done nothing myself to deserve it. Just as none of this is intended to elevate myself or the Christian church above others, it is not intended to berate scientists, or the general world population. It is instead intended to encourage you not to let the things of this world, such as scientific knowledge, eclipse your view of God. Paul writes in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Let us encourage those around us to look at “what has been made” in this way as well—a lens through which to see God. Do not let His glory be eclipsed, but instead give Him thanks and praise for all that He has created.